Is a salad still a salad if it's loaded with bacon and dressed with cream? Of course it is.
This recipe is Nigel Slater's and it first caught my eye in The Observer's magazine; the picture drove me to drool and I knew I had to make it. I couldn't help but have a mess around, though; there are some salty elements in the salad in the smoked mackerel and lardons, so I added a squeeze of lemon and a splodge of horseradish to pep it up a bit. The inclusion of chicory for a bitter edge offset by creaminess was ideal, and a few tangled leaves and some cooked new potatoes that needed using up made this salad into a hearty yet summery dish.
I imagine that once the broad bean season is over and we edge into autumn, replacing the beans with beetroot would work nicely to create a vivid and earthy salad. Watch this space.
Smoked Mackerel & Broad Bean Salad
Serves 2, adapted from Nigel Slater
200gr smoked mackerel
200gr bacon lardons or pancetta
400gr frozen broad beans
6 spring onions
2 sprigs of tarragon
175ml double cream
Half a lemon
1 tsp horseradish
A few leftover potatoes (optional)
1 head of chicory
A handful of peppery leaves, such as rocket or watercress
Bring a pan of water to the boil and simmer the broad beans until tender, about 2 minutes. Drain and run under cold water. Peel the tough outer skins off them - you might want to get an extra pair of hands to help you out.
Fry the bacon lardons in a pan until browned and crispy. Drain off the oil and return to the heat. Chop the spring onions roughly and throw them in, frying for a minute or two. Add the cream and simmer for a minute until thickened slightly. Add the lemon juice, horseradish and throw in the broad beans. Remove from the heat, add the tarragon, chopped, and set to one side.
To assemble, take apart the chicory leaves and distribute evenly on two plates. Scatter slices of the potato over it and then the leaves. Add the bacon, then spoon the creamy broad beans over it, topping it with large chunks of the smoked mackerel. Eat immediately; it's far better warm than cold.